If you are a retailer or an e-tailer (commonly known as e-commerce companies), customer experience must be your top priority. Your website or the e-commerce portal is obviously the first touch for your customers, and I am pretty sure you have invested tons of time thinking and executing ideas so that your consumers feel welcome when they first interact with your company.
While customer experience may be thought of as store or web experience, your customers expect consistent, immersive experience throughout the process. The key ingredient to enabling this experience would be to reflect deeply on the processes once an order is placed. Here are some questions you might want to think about:
- Do your customers always receive what they ordered?
- Are they getting billed for what they ordered?
- How does your shipping time compare with your competitors?
- How do your customers feel about your current shipping time?
- Do your customers buy from you because they love your products or they buy because of the experience they receive interacting with your company?
If you feel happy with your current processes and your customers are satisfied, most likely you already have an ERP implemented, which is helping you with the end-to-end process integration for your business. If not, you might want to think about evaluating and implementing an ERP. The very first task once you kick-off your implementation process would be to research the features you would need and perhaps craft a plan so it’s implemented the way you envision the future state of your operational processes and how that would impact customer experience for your business.
“Your customers expect consistent, immersive experience throughout the process. The key ingredient to enabling this experience would be to reflect deeply on the processes once an order is placed.”
Each business is unique. Each retail business is unique. While you may want to get inspired by other retail businesses how they use an ERP, you will still need to identify your unique processes and ensure that the ERP solution you select supports them.
ERP Features for Retailers
The majority of the ERP solutions available in the market would support the most common features out-of-the-box, required by retail companies. They are listed below for your reference:
- Accounts Receivable (AR)
- Accounts Payable (AP)
- General Ledger (GL)
- Cash Management
- Currency Management
- Multi-entity Accounting (If you have more than one location or entities)
- Tax Management
- Financial Reporting
- Inventory Management
- Warehouse Management
- Barcode Reading Capabilities
- Cycle and Physical Counting
- Order Management
- Salas Order Processing
- Purchase Order Processing
- Purchase Approvals
- Customer and Vendor Management
- Pricing and Discount Management
- Discount Approvals and Sales Commission
- Coupons, Promotions, and Loyalty Management
- Customer and Vendor Contracts
- Customer Notifications
- Order and Payment Status Portal
- Return Management
- Customer Service Portal
- E-commerce integration (if you sell over the web)
- POS integration (if you have a physical outlet)
- Marketing Automation Platform Integration
- CRM Integration
Awareness of these standard features would help you identify the unique features, which typically are more important for your implementation as well as to prioritize your requirements so you have sufficient time exploring the features that matter most.
These unique features collectively are also called industry-specific features, which, as well as integration and ecosystem for your specific micro-industry, is what differentiates ERP products.
The standard features are what forms the foundation of your selection criteria as well as priorities.
Unless you have a very large IT team as well as budget, uncommon for SME retailers, your least risky option would be to find an ERP product designed for retailers otherwise you might not only fail to achieve your customer experience goals but also end up wasting your time and money.
We recommend the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time on the business-specific features while 20% on the core ERP features.
The standard features are what forms the foundation of your selection criteria as well as priorities. However, once your executive team is aligned on the core features, you should be spending the most amount of time discussing the unique features during your evaluation process. We recommend the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time on the business-specific features while 20% on the core ERP features.
If you have negligible experience implementing an ERP, the evaluation process could feel overwhelming due to the steep learning curve, as well as because these purchases are expensive and risky. One way to ease the transition would be to understand how to prioritize and where to focus. Awareness of standard features is the first step of your ERP implementation journey.